Hundreds of people convened on Florida’s Capitol in Tallahassee on Feb. 18 to demand that the state’s leaders honor their right to clean water. Many of them rode for hours on buses from waterfront communities that have suffered heartbreaking episodes of green slime—toxic algae outbreaks sparked by pollution from sewage, manure and fertilizer.
The most popular thing on the entire statewide ballot in 2014 – more popular than any candidate or issue – was the Land Acquisition Amendment to our state Constitution. We know all too well that Floridians are perennially divided on so many votes, but this one was a landslide, approved by a whopping 75 percent majority.
Now that we've got the Land Acquisition Amendment on the books, we citizens need to watch closely to make sure that special interests and their politician friends don't try to make an end-run around the voters' will.
In our many years spent battling polluting corporations, we’ve seen some preposterous claims. The recent ridiculous argument posed by Gulf Power, a subsidiary of the $38-billion Southern Company, is one for the record books.
This op-ed was first published in the Tampa Tribune.
It’s hard to believe that in this age of technological innovation, Florida’s utilities are acting like it’s the 1950's.
First, Duke Energy tried to charge ratepayers for a nuclear power plant it kept insisting would be worth the exorbitant half-billion price tag, but was never even built. When citizens and some prominent politicians balked at this ridiculousness, state regulators ordered Duke to refund $54 million of the money back to consumers.
I’m happy to report that we got a major, slam-dunk win for the environment down here in Florida in the mid-term elections.
A grassroots environmental initiative was the biggest winner on the statewide ballot, more popular than any other candidate or issue. By a whopping 75 percent majority, Floridians voted to add the Land and Water Conservation Amendment to our state Constitution. Florida now has what is believed to be the largest state-based conservation initiative in U.S. history.
Florida has the largest concentration of fresh water springs on Earth. And, as most of you know, the news coming out of our springs is not good. Years of sewage, fertilizer and manure runoff are tipping the biological apple cart, bringing outbreaks of algae and “No Swimming” signs on springs that have been flowing gin-clear for hundreds of years.
A toxic algae outbreak that recently caused officials in Toledo, Ohio to ban citizens from drinking tainted city water for several days, grabbed headlines around the world. For those of us living here in sunny Florida, these noxious green slime outbreaks are now a year-round occurrence.
A water plant that is supposed to serve 30,000 people along Southwest Florida’s Caloosahatchee River, near Fort Myers, has been repeatedly shut down over the years because toxic algae makes the water unsafe.
Florida has more than 900 freshwater springs, thought to be the largest concentration on Earth. In the last two decades, many of these clear blue pools have started filling with algae, and some of the best swimming holes in the state now have “No Swimming” signs posted due to the public health threat.
For more than 30 years, the big lake that looks like a hole on the Florida map at the top of the Everglades—714-square-mile Lake Okeechobee—has been wrecked by government-sanctioned pollution.
But we won a decision in federal court March 28 that, we hope, will put a stop to it. Florida’s biggest newspaper, The Tampa Bay Times, called the ruling “long-awaited clarity and common sense” and “a victory for public health and the environment.”